SanDisk Extreme II review: High speed at low cost

High endurance and top warranty
As all SSDs go, the new Extreme II has finite endurance, called program cycles ( read more about them here ), meaning you can write only so much data to it before it becomes unreliable. However, the drive has a high endurance rating of 80TB over its lifetime. This means if you write 50GB to the drive every day, it will take about 4.5 years for the drive to run out of program cycles. Most of us don't write more than 10GB to the computer's internal drive per day, and there are many days that we don't write much to the drive at all.

To back up this high-endurance claim, SanDisk includes with the Extreme II its top five-year warranty, which is longer than that of most SSDs on the market.

Formidable performer

The Extreme II performed very well in my testing. It was the first SSD that was tested with both CNET's real-world test and the PCMark 8 benchmark suite, and I stacked it against only the current high-end drives on the market.

In real-world tests, the drive was used both as a secondary drive and the main drive that host the operating system. When used as a secondary drive, it offers the sequential real-world sustained write speed of 256MBps and the read speed of 203MBps. Both on bar with the rest of the high-end SSDs.

When used as the main drive do performed a mixture of both sequential and random performance, both reading and writing, at the same time, it offered 224MBps, which was very fast. Note that generally, SSDs are designed to work well in a mixed or random access-oriented environment rather than just extensive sequential write or read, such as data copying.

CNET Labs' Data transfer speeds
(Measured in MB per second; longer bars indicate better performance)
As secondary drive (read only)  
As secondary drive (write only)  
As OS drive (read and write)  
OCZ Vector
277.84 
286.77 
243.01 
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
270.8 
269.78 
236.18 
SanDisk Extreme II
203.42 
255.86 
224.27 
Seagate 600 SSD
275.21 
259.01 
192.26 
Transcend SSD720
269.55 
230.58 
145.26 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
84.75 
39.61 
10.57 

The drive also cut the system's boot and shutdown times significantly compared to when the system used a hard drive as its main storage. The system also resumed from sleep mode instantly.

CNET Labs' Boot time/Shutdown time
(Measured in seconds, shorter bars indicate better performance)
Shutdown time  
Boot time  
OCZ Vector
5.12 
18 
SanDisk Extreme II
6.18 
18 
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4.81 
18 
Transcend SSD720
5 
18 
Seagate 600 SSD
5 
10 

PCMark benchmark software delivered testing scores with high numbers meaning better performance. The benchmark suite provide multiple tests including Home, Work and Storage. The Home and Work tests measure the system performance when doing tasks tailored for those types of usage, respectively. In these tests, the internal drive plays just a small role. On the other hand, the Storage test focuses mainly on the internal drive itself.

The Extreme II's scores in all of these test were on a par with those of other high-end SSDs, and its Storage score was higher than the average.

PCMark 8 Scores
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Storage score  
Work score  
Home score  
OCZ Vector
4,958 
4,646 
3,327 
Plextor M5 Pro Xtreme
4,948 
4,658 
3,331 
SanDisk Extreme II
4,938 
4,680 
3,306 
Seagate 600 SSD
4,896 
4,621 
3,296 
Transcend SSD720
4,779 
4,658 
3,328 
Seagate Laptop Thin SSHD
2,512 
4,585 
3,251 

In all, I was impressed with the Extreme II's performance, especially considering how much it costs. Note that since SSDs are much faster than regular hard drives, it's generally hard to detect differences between them in terms of performance. For this reason, the friendly pricing of the Extreme II makes it that much of a better deal.

Conclusion
While not the fastest, the Extreme II is a very fast SSD, and most importantly, it's far from being the most expensive drive on the market. In fact, it's one of the most affordable, especially the 240GB and 480GB capacities. SanDisk did a good job with this new SSD by bringing high performance to a price point that many consumers can afford.

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Quick Specifications See All

  • Form Factor 2.5 in
  • Hard Drive Type internal hard drive
  • Capacity 240 GB